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Sepp Kuss wins final Dauphine stage as Martinez snatches overall victory

EF Pro Cycling’s Dani Martinez overcame a collaborative and combative French defense to take the overall victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné as young Jumbo-Visma climber Sepp Kuss took a frantic final stage.

Overnight leader Primoz Roglic, who crashed on Saturday’s stage, didn’t take the start on Sunday, a day after Egan Bernal had pulled the plug. That left the GC race wide open, and created an opportunity for support riders like Kuss to take the race into their own hands.

Pinot was the virtual leader for much of the stage until a small group including Martinez, Tadej Pogacar, and Kuss made their way off the front as the road began to rise to Megéve. Their lead stretched to over a minute.

Julian Alaphilippe and Ineos’ Pavel Sivakov, another domestique freed by the absence of his team leader, had been off the front since earlier in the day. Sivakov had a nasty crash trying to follow Alaphippe down from Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, but got up and rejoined Alaphippe. The two were overhauled as the road began to rise again with just under 20km remaining.

The groups combined, then splintered, mixing and churning until Kuss finally broke the elastic and set off alone. Behind, Martinez and Pogacar chased. And another 30 seconds back, Pinot and a contingent of French climbers from various teams worked together to keep the gap down.

Alaphilippe fell off the front group and was the first to put in a big pull for his compatriot, followed by Romain Bardet, Warren Barguil, and a brief stint from Guillaume Martin.

The French resistance wasn’t strong enough, though. Martinez kept his gap and, with a 6-second time bonus for second at the finish, ended the day with a 29-second lead over Pinot. Martin finished third overall, 41 seconds back.

More to come.

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